Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, who became a household name during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced on Monday that he will step down in December for the "next chapter" of his career.
Fauci, 81, has been the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director since 1984, and the chief medical adviser to the US President Joe Biden.
"I am announcing today that I will be stepping down from the positions of Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, as well as the position of Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden in December this year to pursue the next chapter of my career," Fauci said on Monday, calling these roles "the honour of his lifetime."
In 2020, he became the face of the US government's efforts to contain the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past 38 years as NIAID Director, Fauci said, he has worked on various emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats including HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus, the anthrax attacks, pandemic influenza, various bird influenza threats, Ebola and Zika, among others.
"I am particularly proud to have served as the Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden since the very first day of his administration," he said.
Fauci said he plans to use the experience gained as NIAID director to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders.
Fauci has served under seven US Presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan.
However, he found himself marginalised by the erstwhile Donald Trump administration, and was even the subject of political attacks and death threats.
Biden heaped praise on his chief medical adviser, lauding him for his unwavering commitment to work, his unparalleled spirit, energy and scientific integrity.
"For almost four decades, he has served as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, helping our country navigate health crises ranging from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19. Because of Dr. Fauci's many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved," Biden said.
"When it came time to build a team to lead our COVID-19 response – in fact, in one of my first calls as President-elect - I immediately asked Dr. Fauci to extend his service as my Chief Medical Advisor to deal with the COVID-19 crisis our nation faced. In that role, I've been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we've tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic,” he added.